1) Sustainability problem: Detecting leaks in the aging water infrastructure posses financial and infrastructure problems to the city. Area: Water
Most city’s water distribution systems lose an average of 20 percent of their supply because of leaks.
These leaks not only make shortages worse but also can cause serious structural damage to buildings and roads by undermining foundations.
Leak detection systems currently in use are expensive and slow to operate, and don’t work well in systems that use wood, clay, or plastic pipes, which account for the majority of systems in the developing world.
The PipeGuard is a small, rubbery robotic device that looks something like an oversized badminton birdie. The device can be inserted into the water system through any fire hydrant.
It then moves passively with the flow, logging its position as it goes. It detects even small variations in pressure by sensing the pull at the edges of its soft rubber skirt, which fills the diameter of of the pipe.
The device is then retrieved using a net through another hydrant, and its data is uploaded. No digging is required, and there is no need for any interruption of the water service. In addition to the passive device that is pushed by the water flow, the team also produced an active version that can control its motion.
“The process starts with sewage water that is filtered to extract larger particles, bacteria and viruses. Then, through reverse osmosis, membranes refine the water again, sifting out further contaminants and getting rid of any disease-causing agents. Finally, ultraviolet disinfection is used to make sure the water is truly pure and ready to use. The final product even exceeds the FAO’s safety standards.”
1: Area of sustainability category: water infrastructure
Maintaining balanced water levels is critical to avoid flooding in residential areas and conserve enough water for the dry season. And the technician has to drive back and forth between 11 lakes and make sure the levels don’t get too high.”
Manufacturing concrete generates 4.5 percent of the world’s human-induced carbon emissions. So far, substituting 1.5 percent of concrete with irradiated plastic has been proved to improve the mixture’s strength significantly. It means 0.0675 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions is deducted. If this technology is implemented on a global scale, the impact could be significant.
Sustainability Problem: In the next few decades, approximately 9 billion people will live in this planet, concentrating in urban areas. The current growth rate of food production won’t be enough to feed the mouths of everyone. Hence, a sustainable local food production solution will be in demand. Mimicking the way nature works, NexLoop created a water collection system to support urban sustainable agriculture.
The AquaWeb can help urban local food producers collect, filter, store and distribute atmospheric moisture with a modular, all-in-one water sourcing and management system. Other features are as follows:
Harnesses freely available rain and fog
Distribute water using passive strategies to urban farms
Resilient to disturbances
Design and inspiration from cribellate orb weaver spider, drought-tolerant plants, and Jersey cow mushroom
Nature-inspired water collection system wins $100,000 Ray of Hope Prize® – Biomimicry Institute
js5079 – Joshua Strake
Link – NYT
Sustainability Topic: Water
The Dutch have been dealing with the risks that come with being below sea level for centuries. Now that sea level is rising, more and more cities around the world will find themselves facing the same issues that Dutch cities like Groningen and Rotterdam have been dealing with all along. This Times article gets into what kind of technology Rotterdam implements to prevent damage from flooding – the simple answer is that they embrace it. Summary below.
Rotterdam uses built infrastructure in combination with water-absorbing natural landscape (Polders) to reduce the damage and risk from high seas and flooding.
Their most notable built investment is the massive Maeslantkering Flood Gate, which is just outside the city at the mouth of the river, designed to prevent floodwater in an emergency.
Public places such as parks, plazas, and garages are all designed to also act as retention pools for flood waters, to contain flooding.
Flood awareness and safety are also ingrained into Dutch culture – they have an app that alerts you if you are in a flood risk area, and children are forced to learn how to swim fully clothed in the event of disastrous flooding.
Lesson for other cities: walls are not enough. You must integrate water safety and management into your public spaces, your people, and your culture to truly address the risk.
Coastal City Citizens, Urban Policymakers, Sustainable Infrastructure Construction Firms
Assess what cities could benefit from similar projects
Said cities commission studies and teams to plan appropriate projects
Gain approval and funding to undertake projects
This is an interesting idea but I wish they went further into cost, quality, scalability, etc. The company website simply says that waste is broken down to become feed-stock for the plastic. What additional resources are required? Chemicals/Energy? Time? Would like to know more about the costs here. All in all a very interesting idea!
Sustainability Problem: Urban sprawling is not uncommon. The rates have grown along with population growth, both outpacing infrastructure and economic development. As in Indonesia’s case, illegal housing has become a recurring problem, migrants creating slums near river banks as they find it hard to obtain a secure job in the city. A group of Indonesian students saw the need for a breakthrough as they envisioned an infrastructure design to provide urban farming work for jobless migrant workers in Bandung, capital city of West Java, Indonesia.
The ViFA is a design that supports the government’s revitalization efforts by providing resilient needs such as farming, sustainable energy, economy and urban development.
Water management system – the upper part of the building is a greenhouse equipped with a roof that harvests rain. The building also provides a water treatment system to recharge ground water and supply drinkable water to the community.
Carbon footprint reduction – Sustainably-sourced materials will be used in the construction of the building and a recycling and reusing atmosphere will be adopted in the building space.
Social interaction – The building is also equipped with a social space including green space with a micro market, and a mini library to educate people about farming practices and the hydroponic system.
A Vertical Farm Made From Recycled Materials For Indonesia’s Migrant Farmers | Agritecture
“A very exciting idea to reach the untouched parts of the world and assist with disaster relief efforts! This might seem like a stupid question however, what would happen in places with strong headwinds? How sturdy is the balloon’s material and is the stability reliable?”
The World Wildlife Fund states that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages and ecosystems around the world will suffer even more. In addition, an excess of 6.5 billion people are projected to live in cities by 2050, according to recent UN estimates. The sustainability problem of water scarcity is mounting at a global scale but solutions require highly localized implementation. We are well beyond mere civil engineering matters at this point and pressures are also growing for cities to get “smart.” This means that looking to improve water and wastewater management, power generation, and urban demands on rural agricultural production are at the top of the list. The matter of addressing water scarcity involved many stakeholders – householders, residential and commercial property owners, industrial operations, municipalities, water utilities, regulators, policy makers, lawyers, ecosystems, and farming communities.
This matter of water access is an age old one and has made the big screen more than once (think back to 1974 and the movie Chinatown) but today water is increasingly being managed like a commodity (think the documentary Water & Power: A California Heist) and has become a driver of fear to the point of perception that we’re on the bring of a age of water wars. To date the value of predictive analytics and maintenance of water based assets has been touted as an area of great hope for these concerns but many of these management approaches and their associated methodologies have sought to conserve water, reduce scheduling of repairs costs, maintenance efforts, and eliminate failures without accounting for many “soft” factors. Worse, these tactics neglect lower hanging fruit that is readily available. For example, during a period of about 18 months during the years 2013-2015 the largest provider of water and wastewater services in the United Kingdom, Thames Water, worked with Accenture to try to figure out how to best use sensors, analytics, and real-time data to “help the utility company anticipate equipment failures and respond more quickly to critical situations, such as leaks or adverse weather events.” A good and necessary start but far from systemic when considering the scale of implementation plans needed for the years 2025 to 2050.
Today water management and smart water sensing technologies exist even for the DIY home owner and this is indeed a great place to start. It’s low hanging fruit like residential consumers that can lead to increasingly addressing other higher volume end points of water consumption. Installing Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is nearly a dead ringer for water utilities so they can better mange for otherwise they’re unable to measure and that’s a death spiral nobody can afford these days. The growing pressures on infrastructure that urbanization will bring with it are well known and so to get a smart city one must prepare for growth in commensurate ways that are also able to process the worldwide urbanization phenomena. Smart water sensing technologies and in turn the education of water consumers is a logical place to start for at scale impact.
JMB2408 COMMENT TO ANOTHER BLOG POST (Automated Underground Bike Storage):
This concept of storage is pretty amazing in high density environments and of course next to nowhere in the United States will this ever generate enough users to financially justify it but it’s really amazing to think it could be part of a future “smart” city plan. In Boulder, CO there are a lot of bikers and some amazing bike lock options in cage-like structures near the train stations and public transit. A scaled down version of this but one applicable in the United States.